Despite ample similarities in language, geography, and culture, Canadians and Americans tend to do things quite similarly. Take major league sports, for example, which are wildly popular in both countries.
Many Canadian and the US sports share professional leagues, like the National Hockey League, which shares 31 teams, seven of which reside in Canadian cities. Then there’s Major League Baseball, which consists of 20 teams throughout the US and features one Canadian team: the Toronto Blue Jays.
Moving on to the National Basketball League, the Toronto Raptors are current reigning champs, yet in MLB Toronto Blue Jays are the only Canadian franchise in the league. Even the fledging, eternally-struggling Major League Soccer, composed of 26 teams, has three franchises active in Canada; the Montreal Impact, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and Toronto FC. Much like their NBA counterpart, Toronto FC recently took the MLS Cup.
Given the two nations’ tendencies to share sports leagues, it may come as a surprise that the NFL doesn’t have any Canadian franchises. Instead, Canada hosts its own Canadian Football League (CFL), which features notable differences in style of play, rules of play, and other factors such as the gridiron itself, which is wider and longer in the CFL.
However, much in line with the rest of the statistics for North American sports leagues, the Toronto Argonauts are one of the CFL’s top teams. Or, at least, they usually are.
Compared to the NFL’s record of Super Bowl winners, the Argonauts have an extensive lead with their 17 Grey Cup wins. In fact, the closest American counterparts are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots, each with only 6 wins. However, none of these teams seem to be performing to their full potential at the moment. In the NFL, odds in the AFC don’t particularly favor either the Steelers nor the Patriots, and CFL futures leave the Argonauts in seventh place out of nine teams.
The Argonauts: Greatest of the CFL
The Argonauts are no ordinary football team. Not only are they the oldest-surviving team in the CFL and its East Division, but, founded in 1873, the Argonauts are actually the oldest sports team in all of North America to still use its original, founding name.
However, it should be noted that the Argonauts were originally playing a hybrid sport, someplace between what we now call rugby and (American) football. Over the course of its tenure as a sports team, the Argonauts have played at five different stadiums and have won the Grey Cup 17 times. They also hold the highest winning percentage of championship game matches and have the most enduring winning streak at six games.
In fact, their play and competitive drive is so great, and their Grey Cup appearances so frequent, that they’ve faced every opponent in the CFL’s Western Division at least once. But perhaps what is most impressive about the Argonaut’s performance in the past century and a half of play, isn’t how many wins they’ve accrued or how impressive their stats are as highlight features.
Instead, the Argonauts should be considered an unstoppable force in the CFL because of their consistency of play. As aforementioned, the NFL’s New England Patriots were once a dynamic, unstoppable crew. While they’re still a formidable team, they’ll likely lose steam now that their star quarterback, Tom Brady, has moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So it seems to go in the NFL—that every team has their heyday before falling back into a decade of obscurity, only to be risen once again from the ashes after being revitalized by a massive influx of cash or a change of cities.
The Argonauts, on the other hand, have consistently won Grey Cup championships since 1914. Just take a look at every year the team has reigned victorious in the CFL: 1914, 1921, 1933, 1937, 1938, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1950, 1952, 1983, 1991, 1996, 1997, 2004, 2012, and 2017.
The team’s longest run without a win was 31 years between 1952 and 1983. To put this number of years into context, there are four NFL teams that have never won a Super Bowl title since the NFL was formalized in 1966, 54 years ago.
Notable Grey Cup Wins
So, which of these 17 wins are most memorable? Given that the Argonauts won a solid 10 Grey Cup championships before CFL games were televised, the most memorable wins are those that can be revisited through video footage after their 1983 win.
One of the most notable games is known as the ‘Snow Bowl’, played in 1996. At this time, the CFL wasn’t doing well as a sports league. In fact, the situation was so dire that many news outlets were speculating, prior to the Grey Cup, whether or not the CFL had the chops to even host the final championship game.
However, the CFL pushed forward, unsure of whether or not the league would continue the post-Grey Cup. In true Canadian fashion, the game ended up being played outside in blizzard-like conditions. However, viewers tuned in on television, and fans showed up to the stadium bundled and excited. The game was a powerhouse showdown between the Edmonton Eskimos and the Argonauts, who had a top quarterback in Doug Flutie at the time. Not only did the Argonauts come away with a great win, but the CFL continued on.
However, the 2017 Grey Cup, while the Argonauts’ most recent win, is cemented in the minds of fans and pundits as one of their greatest wins. Again, the match was more than a little bit snowy. Plus, the Calgary Stampeders had the odds on the Argonauts going into the game.
With only 53 seconds left on the clock, the Argonauts had managed to take the lead following a 45-yard field goal and a 49-yard offensive push. While Matt Black was able to make an interception in the end-zone for a touchdown.
However, this game is remembered as one of the greatest CFL showdowns of all time because of two major Argonaut plays. The first was a 100-yard touchdown pass; the second was a 109-yard fumble return that also resulted in a touchdown. The team came back for a 27-24 win.